Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

The Education Trust highlights gaps in black and Latino college degree attainment

Two new briefs from The Education Trust highlight gaps in higher educational degree attainment for black and Latino adults in the United States, and list North Carolina as 19th in the nation for percentage of black adults who attain college degrees, earning the state a C + from the organization. 

That percentage has increased about 10 points since 2000, however, earning North Carolina an A grade for the change in black attainment since the turn of the millennia. North Carolina is the third best in the nation when it comes to the increase in black degree attainment. 

Chart courtesy of The Education Trust

“If state leaders are serious about racial equity and reaching their goals to increase the number of college-educated residents in their states, they need to be honest about what their data are telling them about Black, Latino, and other racial or ethnic groups,” said Andrew H. Nichols, Ph.D., Ed Trust’s senior director of higher education research and data analytics and co-author of the briefs, in a press release. “In many cases, states will not improve racial equity and reach their degree attainment goals by simply focusing on overall rates and ignoring the large racial gaps that exist.”

According to the Education Trust, North Carolina is solidly in the middle of the nation when it comes to the gap in college attainment rates between white and black adults. The state ranks 25 and is rated as average by The Education Trust. 

Chart courtesy of The Education Trust

In North Carolina, 21.5 percent of the population is black, according to The Education Trust, and 30.5 percent of that population has attained a college degree. 

The new research from The Education Trust highlights a larger issue in the United States when it comes to educational attainment for both black and Latino adults, with both groups being less likely to have a college degree today than white adults were a quarter of a century ago. A press release from The Educational Trust said that population growth for people of color is larger than that of white adults, and as more white workers retire, states must work to narrow the gap to meet the future needs of employers. 

Chart courtesy of The Education Trust
Chart courtesy of The Education Trust

The data in the two briefs gives a state-by-state breakdown of achievement rates for both black and Latino adults, and also illustrates which states are most in need of improvement. When it comes to degree attainment for Latinos, North Carolina performs more poorly than when it comes to black adults. 

Chart courtesy of The Education Trust

In North Carolina, 8.1 percent of the population is Latino, and of those, 18.8 percent has received a college degree. The Education Trust ranks North Carolina 34th in the nation for Latino degree attainment rates, and gives it a grade of D. North Carolina gets a C for percent change in attainment rates, having bumped up its percentage by 4.7 percent since 2000. 

Chart courtesy of The Education Trust

North Carolina is rated average among the states for its Latino/white college degree attainment gap, and is also 34th in the nation for that metric. 

“Given what we know about the value of a higher education for families, communities, and a thriving economy, all states — whether they’ve ranked high or not — need to act with deliberate haste to close these gaps and increase college attainment among every group,” said Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., vice president of higher education policy and practice, in a press release. “We at The Education Trust are ready to help them do it.”

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.